O. E. Starnes


Phone (828) 771-2426
Fax (828) 257-2767
University of North Carolina
Bachelor’s Degree in Law, 1950
Davidson College
Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science, 1947

O.E. Starnes is a principal with The Van Winkle Law Firm, who, after 45 years building a highly regarded insurance defense litigation practice, today works part-time as a general counselor to firm clients.  Throughout his career, he has defended medical providers and architects against allegations of professional malpractice and successfully prevented the closing of a large mining plant and engineering company in Western Northern Carolina.  In addition, Starnes served as corporate counsel for the City of Asheville and defeated an aggressive lawsuit seeking to prevent fluoridation of the public water supply.

Professional Affiliations
  • 28th Judicial District Bar
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Former State Chairperson
  • Buncombe County Bar Association, Former President
  • Harry C. Martin American Inns of Court
  • North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Former Member of the Board of Governors
  • North Carolina State Bar
Awards and Honors
  • AV Peer-Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • North Carolina Bar Association, “General Practice Hall of Fame”

In addition to possessing sound legal skills, O.E. is a talented musician, tennis player and singer. He has a reputation for rousing many gatherings by tickling the ivories or playing familiar tunes on his ever-present harmonica.  A lifelong resident of Asheville, N.C., the World War II veteran is also passionate about sunfish sailing crafts, motorboats and relaxing at his lake cottage. O.E. and his wife, Lida, have seven children.

Favorite Artist:            Andrew Wyeth
Favorite Music:           Barbershop quartet harmony
Guilty Pleasures:        Playing when I could be working

Community Involvement
  • American Red Cross, Asheville-Mountain Area Chapter, Former Chairperson
  • Biltmore Forest Country Club
  • First Presbyterian Church, O.E.
  • Episcopal Church, Lida
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Montreat College
  • Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity
  • Phi Delta Theta Social Fraternity
  • Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville, Former Chairperson